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Breaking Boundaries: The IPL’s Record Run Scoring Season

Eight of the ten highest IPL scores ever were made this season. This included the highest domestic T20 score ever (287), the highest successful chase in T20 cricket ever (262) and the highest scoring match in T20s ever (549).

The 2024 IPL season was a year for the batters.

Many have put this batting boost down to improved hitting skills and better pitches this season. But is this the only reason?

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Runs, runs, runs

Since the early years of the IPL, the average score has trended upwards from the low of 137 in 2009 to the most recent season’s record high of 175.5.

At first glance, this might suggest that there is nothing extraordinary about the increase in scores over the last few seasons in particular. However, when you dig deeper, there is more than meets the eye.

In the early seasons of the IPL, T20 cricket was extremely new and most players were still getting to grips with the foreign format. Also, almost all of the first six seasons of the competition had a different number of teams and matches.

However, since 2014, the competition has shored itself up and it has become undoubtedly the biggest domestic cricket tournament in the world, even rivalling the World Cup.

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Between 2014 and 2021, eight teams competed in each season, with a total of sixty matches throughout. Barring the overly fruitful 2018 and barren 2015, each season averaged between 155 and 161 runs per innings. When you compare this to the increasing average scores in 2022, 2023 and 2024, this seems like a significant change in the trend.

Ten team expansion and the Impact Player Rule

There were two significant changes during these years that may have caused this enhancement in scoring rates.

Firstly, in 2022, the IPL expanded from eight teams to ten. This caused a dilution in the quality of the player pool, as 22 squad players in 2021 were promoted to starting spots in 2022. This increased the range of talent within teams and when combined with the fact that India’s depth of seamers is comparatively weak to its reserve batters, led to a mismatch in skills between bowling and batting, therefore, facilitating more runs.

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Secondly, 2023 saw the introduction of the Impact Player Rule. This law allows each team to make one substitution throughout a game and effectively allows each team to field 12 players. This lengthens each team’s batting line-up, strengthening the middle-order.

In the final, Abdul Samad batted eight for Sunrisers Hyderabad (after being parachuted in as an impact player), while Kolkata Knight Riders had Ramandeep Singh carded to come in at seven. Both specialist batters, Samad struck at 168 this season, while Singh’s strike rate was over 200. This power hitting was rarely seen so low in the order before the Impact Player Rule.

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With each team batting so deep, the top-orders are freed up to be far more aggressive and take the game to the bowlers, with the knowledge their middle-order can survive a few early wickets, rather than worrying about the long tail beneath them.

A great example of this is the rise in boundaries over the last few seasons. Between 2015 and 2021, less than 27 fours were hit per match. This rose up to almost 29.5 in 2023 and 2024 and equates to over ten runs.

Similarly, the rise in six hitting has been astronomical. Before 2022, less than 12 sixes were hit per game on average. This season, it rose to 17. This is equivalent to over 30 runs per match – the difference between 170, a par T20 score, and over 200.

Keeping up with the times

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, two of India’s and the IPL’s greatest batters ever, have both had to adapt their game to match the change in intent at the top of the order. They have both played in every season of the IPL and had a strike rate of 126 and 128 respectively, before 2023. Neither were known for their aggressive starts or power hitting but they both had brilliant records in the IPL. However, over the last two season, there has been a noticeable rise in each of their strike rates to keep up with the times.

On a show with Cricbuzz, Dinesh Karthik discussed how criticisms from pundits over Kohli’s strike rate (compared to other batters) fuelled Kohli to raise his game to another level. Only Shubman Gill (2023) has scored more runs in a season, at a faster rate than Kohli in 2024.

Similarly, MS Dhoni has had his best two years in the IPL over the last two seasons. As you would expect from a finisher, his strike rate was higher than both Sharma and Kohli’s, but also a lot more variable due to the all-or-nothing nature of death hitting. However, his rate increased massively from 133 to 182 in 2023 and 220 this season. He went from many people thinking his career was petering out to one of the most destructive hitters over the last two years.

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  • Toby Reynolds

    Toby is the cricket editor at the Sports Gazette. For the last three years, he has been a radio host and podcaster at URN. He also enjoys F1, rugby and football. Having written his dissertation on rugby union salary caps, Toby loves to explore tactical trends and use statistics to back up his arguments, as well as trying to disprove the saying that “stats are for prats”.